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Coleford
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GL16 8HG

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The Forest of Dean District Council - Agenda for Full Council on Thursday, 27th February, 2014, 7.00 pm

Agenda and minutes

Full Council
Thursday, 27th February, 2014 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, Coleford

Contact: Julie Jones 

Listen to this meeting: Play Audio

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Cllr Stephens, Chairman of the Council, welcomed councillors, David Rees, chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel, and members of the public to the meeting.

 

Apologies were received from Cllrs Carole Allaway Martin, Gethyn Davies and Gabriella Kirkpatrick.

 

 

2.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 5 December 2013.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 5 December 2013 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.

3.

Urgent Business

The chairman to identify any items of urgent business.

Minutes:

The chairman identified no items of urgent business.

4.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest in any matter to be discussed at the meeting.  Members and officers are requested to identify the nature of the interest.

Minutes:

Cllrs Gooch, Edey and Glastonbury declared disclosable pecuniary interests in item 9.2

5.

Chairman's announcements

Minutes:

The chairman announced that the high court had refused permission from the Forest of Dean Friends of the Earth for a judicial review of the masterplan and design code for Cinderford Northern Quarter. He believed that this represented a positive step towards the regeneration of Cinderford.

5.1

Chairman's Charity Dinner

The chairman to announce that the Chairman’s Charity Dinner will be held on Friday, 16 May 2014 at Whitemead Forest Park, Parkend, at 7pm.  The focus for the evening will be the Pride of the Forest Awards 2014 which are being arranged in partnership with The Citizen newspaper.  The chosen charity for that evenings proceeds is Forest Sensory Services (previously known as FORGE).

Minutes:

The chairman announced that the Chairman’s Charity Dinner would be held on Friday, 16 May 2014 at Whitemead Forest Park, Parkend, at 7pm.  The focus for the evening would be the Pride of the Forest Awards 2014 which are being arranged in partnership with The Citizen newspaper and he urged councillors to put forward names.  The chosen charity for that evening’s proceeds would be Forest Sensory Services (previously known as FORGE). He was pleased to support the charity, which did a lot of good work. Every penny counted for this charity, which had recently won an award for the best small charity in the UK.

5.2

Petition

The chairman to announce that he has received a petition from Hogwatch Forest of Dean which will be forwarded to the Forestry Commission.

Minutes:

The chairman announced that he had received the following petition containing 2024 signatures from Hogwatch Forest of Dean which will be forwarded to the Forestry Commission.

'As residents of the Forest of Dean we urge the Forestry Commission to significantly reduce boar numbers to a level necessary to protect public safety, prevent further damage to public and private property, and to protect our Forest.'

 

5.3

Legal Costs

The chairman to advise that the Council have settled the Co-operative’s costs bill associated with the Judicial Review against the decision to grant planning permission for a retail store in Steam Mills, Cinderford.  The costs were settled at £125,000.

 

Minutes:

The chairman advised that the Council had settled the Co-operative’s costs bill associated with the judicial review against the decision to grant planning permission for a retail store in Steam Mills, Cinderford.  The costs were settled at £125,000, which the Council’s legal department had negotiated down.

 

6.

Public question time pdf icon PDF 93 KB

To answer questions asked by members of the public. The constitution requires that questions are received three working days before the meeting (deadline 4.00pm on Monday, 24 February 2014)

Minutes:

Question 1

 

The following question has been received from Martyn Williams, Woodside House, Bradley Hill, Nr Blakeney Glos GL15 4AW

 

I am very concerned at the damage caused by the feral pigs, who are now well established in the Forest of Dean. Whilst I do not personally wish to have them eradicated I feel that the Forestry Commission is not managing their numbers sufficiently well to avoid damage to sports fields, community areas and to individual private property.  As well as the risk to public safety, myself and many of my friends have lost huge areas of winter pasture and gardens to these animals.  My question is as a Tax Payer what am I to do when large numbers of boar break through my already adequate stock fencing?  Defra tell us fences suddenly now have to be five feet tall, buried 2 feet in the ground and with a strand of barbed around the base being the only satisfactory way of keeping these animals at bay.  This is financially prohibitive, so when this happens, what should I do to mitigate severe damage to my garden and pasture land?  Being that the police won’t attend, you can never get hold of the forestry commission, and I would not be allowed to shoot them, even on my own land.  Nobody will take responsibility for them, and I desperately need to know what to do when this eventuality happens?

 

Response from Councillor Terry Hale, Cabinet Member for Community

 

We have a motion on wild/feral boar later on our agenda tonight, so Mr Williams may wish to hear the debate.  I acknowledge that this is a difficult problem and one on which the whole community needs to work together.  In particular, whilst the Forestry Commission could manage the population size of the boar, we also need the general public to ensure they do not encourage the boar at picnic sites, or anywhere else, by feeding them.

 

Whilst the Council will do what it can to work constructively with the Forestry Commission - and others - in support of our community, we cannot offer landowners specific advice as this is outside of our powers.  However, I can say that the common law principle is for landowners to fence against the historic forest – to protect ancient rights and privileges of access.  DEFRA's policy is that the boar are wild animals and landowners are responsible for defending their land and putting right any damage caused.   I understand that it is possible for some landowners to legally shoot boar on their own land but only if they have both the shooting rights and a firearms license specifically endorsed for boar.  Obviously, I would encourage anyone who was so-minded to seek specialist advice on this matter before taking any action.

 

Supplementary question

Mr Williams was not present at the meeting, so the Council would send him the reply to his question.

 

 

 

Question 2

 

The following questions have been received from Steve Rawlings, Welwyn, Church Walk, Viney Hill, Lydney  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Notice of motions

7.1

Cllr Don Pugh

This democratically elected Council supports the Forestry Commission in adopting effective management methods within their agreed management plan 2010 – 2016 that will control and maintain a sustainable feral wild boar population in the Forest of Dean.

 

Minutes:

This democratically elected Council supports the Forestry Commission in adopting effective management methods within their agreed management plan 2010 – 2016 that will control and maintain a sustainable feral wild boar population in the Forest of Dean.

 

Speaking to his motion Cllr Pugh stated that no-one owned the boar, adding that Defra stated that the landowner and the community were responsible. In this case the landowner was the Forestry Commission and the Council acted on behalf of the community. The latest Forestry Commission survey, which had used high resolution thermal imaging but could not access all areas, had identified 535 boar. The boar had clearly rooted land in gardens, public spaces and sports facilities. They had also contributed to traffic accidents, attacked dogs, were a risk to ground nesting birds and could spread foot and mouth and swine flu. The Deputy Surveyor had previously wanted to cull 250 boar, but had reduced the figure to 135 in response to a lack of public support at the time. He surmised that if 100 of the remaining boar were female and produced one young per cycle there would be at least 700 boar now. However, litters were commonly higher and sows could give birth three times per year. The original boar released had been from stock bred to survive and grow quickly. He emphasised that no-one knew the actual rate of increase that had taken place, other than that it had been rapid. He thought that to completely eradicate the boar would be a shame, accepting that people liked to see them around the forest, just not in their own back gardens. One argument against culling claimed that if left alone, the boar would reach a naturally sustainable level in the forest. However the Deputy Surveyor had already mentioned that the forest could sustain up to 10,000 boar. Defra had already discounted oral contraception as being uncontrollable, so that the only practical solution was culling at a level set by experts advising the Forestry Commission.

 

Cllr Hale expressed his support for the motion. He had been chairman of the scrutiny committee that had undertaken an inquiry in 2009, which had taken evidence from a wide range of interested parties. Its recommendations covering the management of the boar by the Forestry Commission and Verderers, a communications campaign, liaising with the police regarding poaching and regular updates to scrutiny still applied, and some had not been implemented. He urged the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee to be more outcome focused on 6 March and hold the Forestry Commission to account, believing that the Council had been previously hoodwinked.

 

Cllr Gardiner proposed and Cllr Edey seconded the following amendment.

Given that large grazing animals can adversely impact on the fringes of forest settlements, and in recognition that their management is best administered by forest rangers, this amendment requires that this Council and the Forestry Commission fund employment of a commensurate number of rangers to grazing animals under the terms laid out in the 2007 High  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.1

8.

Councillor Allowances Scheme 2014/2015 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

David Rees, Independent Remuneration Panel Chairman, to present report LD.497 relating to Councillor Allowances for 2014/15.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The chairman thanked David Rees for coming and bearing with the Council during its debate of the motion.

David Rees, chairman of the Independent Remuneration Panel, presented report LD.497. He explained that the suggested increase in the members’ allowance reflected the one per cent increase being awarded to employees for 2014/15, recognising the current climate and the need to attract enough people to stand for election.

The recommendation for an increase in the special responsibility allowance (SRA) for the Licensing Committee chairman came from recent changes to the role, putting it on a par with other committee chairmen. The recommendation that council champions and scrutiny subcommittee chairmen receive SRAs reflected increased work loads. He said that a recent internal audit had recommended that travel and subsistence levels be monitored to ensure that costs were kept under control. He highlighted the suggested extra five pence per mile for councillors who shared cars.

 

The chairman thanked David Rees for the panel’s hard work that was evident from the report.

 

Cllr Molyneux also thanked the panel for its well-thought through recommendations. He recognised the need to ensure that all people had the opportunity to become councillors and the difficulty for working people with young families. However, the Council had difficult financial decisions to make commenting that the Strategic Directors had not received a pay rise in 2013/14. He could not justify any increase for councillors. Additionally he believed that it was difficult to determine one’s own allowance level, suggesting that councils operate a similar system to MPs where an external body set levels.

 

Cllr Molyneux proposed and Cllr Diana Edwards seconded the following motion.

To keep all councillor allowances at 2013/14 levels

 

Cllr Martin agreed with all the points made, although she recognised the change in responsibility for the chairman of the Licensing Committee, which was now broadly similar to the chairman of the Planning Committee.

 

Cllr Martin proposed and Cllr Hogan seconded the following amendment.

To remove the SRA for the Planning Committee vice chairman and increase the allowance for the Licensing Committee chairman to a multiple of 1 of the basic allowance.

 

Cllr Palmer agreed that it would be abhorrent for councillors to vote themselves a pay rise when there were residents having to use food banks. She did not think that an extra £2 per week would attract more candidates.

 

Cllr Thomson believed that it was difficult to put in place a scheme for 48 councillors who were all in different financial circumstances. To attract a broader candidate base, the basic allowance needed to take into account loss of earnings for working people. If the Council kept putting off that issue, then the gap would continue to widen. To be equitable he suggested that it was possible to link the basic allowance to a specific officer pay grade.

 

Cllr Hogan said that it would be wrong to accept an increase on the strength of the argument that officers were to receive a one per cent increase. He pointed out that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

Revenue and Capital Budget and Council Tax Proposals including Pay Policy Statement 2014/2015

9.1

Treasury Management Strategy 2014/2015 pdf icon PDF 119 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present the Council’s Treasury Management Strategy 2014/2015, as detailed in report F.248.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Robinson presented report F.248, commenting that it was a technical report that the Audit Committee and the Cabinet had considered and agreed. He reminded the meeting that in December 2013 Full Council had resolved to extend the counterparty limit for Lloyds Bank as a precautionary measure. Counterparty and credit risk still remained uppermost in the Council’s mind. The strategy also took into account the desire to invest in affordable housing.

He highlighted changes in the tabled page 78 (attached to the minutes)

 

RESOLVED – to adopt

a)   The Treasury Management Strategy for 2014/2015 at section 1 of Annex A of F.248.

b)   The prudential and treasury indicators and limits for 2014/2015 to 2016/2017 contained in sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.6, 2.7 and 4.4 of Annex A.

c)    The Minimum Revenue Provision (MRP) statement at section 2.3 of Annex A.

d)    The Authorised Limit prudential indicator contained at section 3.2 of Annex A.

e)   The Investment Management Strategy for 2014/2015 contained in section 4.4 of Annex A.

f)     The detailed criteria included in section 5.3 of Annex A.

 

Voting was as follows.

For (38) Norman Stephens, Roger Yeates, Brian Jones, Brian Edwards, James Bevan, Judy Davis, Frankie Evans, Marion Winship, Roy Birch, Ian Whitburn, Simon Roberts, Arthur Thomas, Julia Gooch, Dave East, Maria Edey, Philip Burford, Paul Hiett, Graham Morgan, Max Coborn, David Thomson, Bill Osborne, Paul McMahon, Tim Gwilliam, Bill Evans, Di Martin, Bernie O’Neill, Bruce Hogan, Jackie Fraser, Val Hobman, Lynn Sterry, Tanya Palmer, Roger Sterry, Terry Glastonbury, Terry Hale, Diana Edwards, Patrick Molyneux, Brian Robinson, Jane Horne.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstain (0)

9.2

Retail Relief for Business Rates pdf icon PDF 78 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present report F.252.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllrs Edey, Glastonbury and Gooch left the chamber for this item.

 

Cllr Robinson presented report F.252, explaining that central government had announced the measure in its Autumn statement and it was for councils to decided how best to implement it.

 

The Group Manager for Finance and Property clarified that the tabled extra papers (attached to the minutes) related to properties not easily accessible to the public.

 

RESOLVED – to approve

a)    a scheme of retail rate relief in line with principles set out in Annex A of report F.252;

b)    delegation of awarding such relief to the Group Managers – Customer Services and Finance and Property; and

c)    that the policy remains in place whilst 100% reimbursement is available from the government.

 

 

Voting was as follows

For (40) Norman Stephens, Roger Yeates, Brian Jones, James Bevan, Judy Davis, Frankie Evans, Marrilyn Smart OBE, Clayton Williams, Len Lawton, Marion Winship,  Roy Birch, Ian Whitburn, Simon Roberts, Arthur Thomas, Dave East, Philip Burford, Clive Elsmore, Andrew Gardiner, Paul Hiett, Graham Morgan, Max Coborn, David Thomson, Bill Osborne, Paul McMahon, Tim Gwilliam, Bill Evans, Di Martin, Bernie O’Neill, Bruce Hogan, Jackie Fraser, Val Hobman, Lynn Sterry, Tanya Palmer, Roger Sterry, Terry Hale, Diana Edwards, Martin Quaile, Patrick Molyneux, Brian Robinson, Jane Horne.

 

Against (0)

 

Abstain (0)

 

 

 

Cllrs Edey, Glastonbury and Gooch returned to the chamber.

 

9.3

Council Budget 2014/2015 and Medium Term Projections 2014-2018 pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present the Council’s final budget proposals for 2014/15 and medium term financial plan for the period to 2018 as detailed in report F.249.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Robinson presented report F.249, explaining that it had taken into account comments from the Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee and the results of the public survey. It represented a continuation of the strategy from the previous year, including senior management cost savings. The report proposed to continue the council tax freeze, as local people were still struggling with the effects of the economic downturn. The Cabinet had identified an important area of expenditure for the surplus of £37,000 in the form of a supplement to be paid to the Council’s lowest paid employees to bring their earnings up to the ‘living wage’. This would not affect the current pay scales. He believed that the car park charging regime was working well, although income was slightly below the projected level. The report proposed to introduce a minimum period of two hours parking in the four main town car parks at 40 pence, which addressed the concerns of local traders that shoppers were rushing around shops to keep within the hour and not browsing. The report proposed to help the most frequent car park users by reducing the cost of annual permits.

The Council would continue to take steps to maximise income in areas such as business rates and New Homes Bonus to help with the difficulties to be faced in 2016/17.

The capital programme had originally identified housing and leisure as key areas for investment, but after taking into account the views of scrutiny and the public the leisure investment would remain at the same level as previously. Any proposal for further leisure expenditure would require a solid business case to be presented to Full Council.

 

Cllr Gooch proposed and Cllr East seconded the following amendment.

To remove the changes to car park charging.

 

Cllr Bill Evans congratulated the Cabinet on finding the funds to pay for the living wage, which put the Council in a good light and recognised the efforts of the workforce.

 

Cllr Robinson clarified that annual permit holders could use the permit in any vehicle, so that an employer could buy one and use for several part-time employees or a family could use one for different family members.

 

Cllr Hogan asked how the Council would prevent fraud.

Cllr Robinson replied that he recognised the risk, but that the permits were already in use and the Council would pursue any fraudulent use of them.

 

The Group Manager for Finance and Property clarified for Cllr Gardiner that the county council had contributed £203,000 of the £303,000 flood alleviation funding and a planned project to put solar panels on the council building roof had been put on hold, due to a change in the rules governing government grants.

 

Cllr O’Neill stated that he could not support the amendment, because he was opposed to car park charging in general. He commented that the base budget was £300,000 lower than it would have been had the Council increased council tax in each of the previous three years. Instead it had introduced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.3

9.4

Council Tax Resolution 2014/2015 pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Councillor Brian Robinson, Cabinet Member for an Efficient Council and Planning Policy, to present report F.250.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Cllr Robinson presented report F.249.

The Group Manager for Finance and Property stated that to take into account the previous resolution annex A paragraph 3 (a) should now read £41,140,000 and annex A paragraph 3 (b) should now read £35,195,000

 

Cllr Robinson proposed and Cllr Diana Edwards seconded the motion as amended.

 

RESOLVED -

 

1.

It be noted that on 13th December 2013 the Council calculated the Council Tax Base 2014/2015.

(a)         for the whole Council area as 26,499.93 [Item T in the formula in Section 31B of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, as amended (the "Act")]; and

(b)         for dwellings in those parts of its area to which a Parish precept relates as in the attached Annex C.

2.

Calculate that the Council Tax requirement for the Council’s own purposes for 2014/2015 (excluding Parish precepts) is £4,300,670.

3.

That the following amounts be calculated  for the year 2014/2015 in accordance with Sections 31 to 36 of the Act:

 

 

 

(a)

£41,140,000.00

being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A(2) of the Act taking into account all precepts issued to it by Parish Councils.

(b)

£35,195,000.00

being the aggregate of the amounts which the Council estimates for the items set out in Section 31A(3) of the Act.

(c)

£5,945,193.30

being the amount by which the aggregate at 3(a) above exceeds the aggregate at 3(b) above, calculated by the Council in accordance with Section 31A(4) of the Act as its Council Tax requirement for the year. (Item R in the formula in Section 31B of the Act).

(d)

£224.35

being the amount at 3(c) above (Item R), all divided by Item T (1(a) above), calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 31B of the Act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year (including Parish precepts).

(e)

£1,644,523.30

being the aggregate amount of all special items (Parish precepts) referred to in Section 34(1) of the Act (as per the attached Appendix B).

(f)

£162.29

being the amount at 3(d) above less the result given by dividing the amount at 3(e) above by Item T (1(a) above), calculated by the Council, in accordance with Section 34(2) of the Act, as the basic amount of its Council Tax for the year for dwellings in those parts of its area to which no Parish precept relates.

 

4.        To note that the County Council, the Police Authority and the Fire Authority have issued precepts to the Council in accordance with Section 40 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992 for each category of dwellings in the Council’s area.

5.         That the Council, in accordance with Sections 30 and 36 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992, hereby sets the aggregate amounts shown in the table below as the amounts of Council Tax for 2014/2015 for each part of its area and for each of the categories of dwellings.

Precepting Authority

Band A

£

Band B

£

Band C

£  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.4

10.

Cabinet and scrutiny committee reports pdf icon PDF 92 KB

The Leader of the Council and the chairman of the scrutiny committee to report on recent activities, followed by questions from members. Depending on time the Chairman will rule and only take one question per member relating to reports.

a)     Cabinet – Councillor Patrick Molyneux

b)     Strategic Overview and Scrutiny Committee – Councillor Philip Burford

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Full Council noted the reports.